Customer Reviews: Darkest Hour, The
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on February 17, 2012
In this movie, four young Americans (including Emile Hirsch, from Speed Racer, and Max Minghella, from Art School Confidential, among others) get stranded in Moscow when an alien invasion (represented initially, intriguingly, as a lethal form of electromagnetic waves) attack Moscow, leaving almost everyone dead. Our friends hide in a sort of basement, and when a few days later, they emerge from inside, they find wholesale destruction, and the news that the aliens have attack planet wide, but also intriguing hints that there maybe other survivors. And soon enough, they find that some Russians have banded together to resist the invaders.

Produced by Kazakh filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov (from the interesting Nightwatch franchise) this movie is nothing special but is surely an entertaining outing. Among the plus: the survivors escaping from the aliens in a desolate Moscow, including empty landmarks like The Kremlin and Moscow State University. Among the minus: some of the special effects are really cheesy.
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on May 19, 2012

I really liked "The Darkest Hour." In fact, I am surprised at the number of negative reviews here on this site. While I do not feel it was a five-star movie, I do feel this movie did exactly what it had to, as well as it could.

To be honest, when I first heard that an aliens-invade-the-earth movie was going to involve two American "aliens"--that is, two Americans visiting Moscow on a business deal--I found the notion intriguing but not compelling. I mean, why Moscow, right?

But the movie takes off very quickly. Once Ben and Sean, the two Americans, are double-crossed by their Russian "partner" Skyler, several things are set in motion: their two personalities are clarified in crisis, they have a need to go out and burn off steam (and meet Natalie and Ann), and the audience is ensured that Skyler's gonna die.

All of that takes no more than five to ten minutes of screen time. And when the aliens do arrive, they do so in noteworthy fashion: as little Aurora Boreali that drift to the streets. As it has been typical of aliens ever since "War of the Worlds" did it on the radio 70 plus years ago, the intruders somehow zap! people into nothingness. It isn't until sometime later we begin to understand how (through some kind of electrical disintegration).

And, as we find out after the five of them spend an unspecified number of days hiding in a food storage room, there are apparently precious few human beings on the planet left alive.

What really made this film enjoyable was the clever use of its characters, particularly Sean, played by Emile Hirsch. I hesitate to use the word "plucky" except it describes him to a T: resourceful, creative, resilient, he becomes the backbone of not only their twosome, but also the film. I found Hirsch to bear a resemblance to a more cheerful "Bourne" as he noodles his way through situations that are making others crumble.

Indeed, this characteristic is echoed throughout the movie, a thing we are fond of calling The American Spirit, but its appearance in this movie proves it does not belong to us alone. A likewise spirit among surviving Moscovites helps prove human tenacity is a worldwide human characteristic. Not that everyone has it--and this film doesn't mind killing off its central characters, mind you--but those that do are like little islands within the desolate streets of a ruined city...and, we suppose, world.

I loved "The Darkest Hour." I thought it did what good sci-fi movies without a blockbluster cast or budget do: package its product with good, clever special effects, but never forget it is character and story that drive a movie. Emile Hirsch and the rest of the cast (Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor and Max Minghella, among others) created compelling personalities who were always interesting.

Credit also goes to the special effects team for not only dreaming up a clever representation of a menacing alien presence, but also for giving its characters interesting ways of dealing with it as well. The film never feels stale, never drags, never becomes unbelievable.

And the proof of the fact is that, given the fact that we are left in the perfect position for a sequel, it is one I definitely want to see.
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on April 13, 2012
especially for what looks like a relatively low budget endeavor. casting was good, actors were likeable, dialog felt fresh, the pacing was crisp, and while it followed the usual structure (5 survivors becomes 4, then 3, then 2, etc) it offered a few surprises along the way. it made excellent use of the Moscow location, and the special effects were not as cheesy as you might expect. worth a rental.
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on April 14, 2012
My wife and I like to see alien movies. Darkest Hour is more understandable than Cowboys vs Aliens, and the characters are more likeable than Skyline. The steady camera work also makes it less of a nausea fest than Cloverfield. The movie is entertaining, even though it has a few tropes.

Unfortunately most of the time in Darkest Hour is consumed by the heroes running from glowing shadowy angel things. All the running really showcases how nicely Moscow is filmed. Oddly the movie takes the heroes through all the famous tourist spots in Moscow. A nightclub, the highway, Red square, The Kremlin, Moscow GUM(mall), the US Embassy and the famous metro are all setpieces. Perhaps without all the shadowy ghostly things, all of these places in Moscow would be fun to see.

If you are looking for over the top violence, sex, or drama, there is none here. That isn't the fault of the young and unknown actors and actresses, its because you can't really script a movie about running from invisible angel things. The movie has more Deus Ex Machina than the average Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. It's a better movie than Cloverfield but it is begging for some closure.

Close your eyes and imagine Ghost Busters vs Pikachu. If that vision makes you smile, rent the movie!
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on January 8, 2012
An alien vs. earth film that doesn't take place in L. A. Two software developers go to Moscow to present their software only to discover the Russians already have an exact copy. Unfortunately the beginning and their talents don't factor later into the film. They meet a couple of other Americans at a nightclub and when it looks like they are going to score aliens attack the planet (story of my life).

These are not ordinary aliens. They are mostly invisible and like Predator seem to hunt by infrared. They kill humans and barking dogs using some kind of microwave beam that causes living things to explode (the cool part). Our focus group of 5 young adults hide in a large storage closet that has food.

Now what? Do you A) stay put until all the food is gone, then maybe venture out to get more food, hoping that the aliens have killed enough humans. And if captured all they would want to do is probe you?

or B) Try to find the US embassy so they can get you back home. Personally I would go with "A" because I know for a fact the US embassy does not have contingency plans for an alien invasion. Perhaps they need to advertise that more.

** mid point Plot SPOILER? but not ending**

Our group chose option "B". Later they discover the aliens can be killed with a "Ghost Buster" looking weapon and there is a Russian sub in the river awaiting survivors...but not for long. They meet people along the way. They gain a few and lose a few.

To be honest I got a bit bored during the alien hide and seek part. There were no monsters to see, so they saved a ton of money on make-up and special effects. I didn't feel much intensity. The acting was okay considering the lack of a script. They needed to add a little humor, maybe a love scene with an "exploding" ending.
Asylum dull.

2 f-bombs. No sex, or nudity. Some hip-hop song lyrics were suggestive.
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on April 21, 2012
I don't know why everyone has ripped so much on this film. When I first saw the trailer, I thought it had an intriguing idea-one I've not seen before. I never went to the theatre to see it because of all the negative reviews. Finally, once it was available here, I went ahead and took a chance. Partly, to be honest, because I am a HUGE fan of Joel Kinnaman.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I really liked it. It's not a movie I'm watching because it's going to be Oscar nominated (besides-I usually don't care for those anyway). It gave an explanation for why the aliens are on Earth, how to kill them and the end left you with hope.

It actually reminded me a bit of Red Dawn or the Australian flick, Tomorrow, After the War Began; everything is not wrapped up in a bow but the end leaves you with hope.

I don't know what everyone was expecting, but I thought it was worth watching and did so twice. My mom also watched it and really enjoyed.
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on August 1, 2013
This movie had lots of potential and some great actors. It was very predictable for the most part. It did have a couple of I didn't see that coming moments.

Entertaining but glad I didn't go to the theaters to see it.
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on May 23, 2012
Purchased this sci-fi movie as I do all sci-fis, knowing that ratings from the producer or individuals will surely vary with my own opinion, but I found this movie very good, not ridiculously shallow or childish, respectible special effects and certainly an acceptible level of acting quality. Plus, I found that I really did like it. New faces in movie role selection are usually a plus in these movies and I found this true here. I'm in my 60's and have been either going to theaters or buying movies since I was 9 years old, so I'd say that I think I can at least share my opinion, as humble as it is, with those that care to buy, go see, or rent this movie. Don't think you'll be sorry. Oh, really nice wrinkle in the change-of-scenery for this flick.... good to see that New York or LA is not getting blown to hell for a change.
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on September 14, 2015
I wanted to see this movie because in the ads the aliens did something I couldn't figure out. As some SF movies suck, I didn't have high expectations----well, I love SF so I'm always hoping for a good one. This was pretty good!! The aliens were unique and what they did was pretty awesome! I definitely recommend spending time with this!
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on May 15, 2015
Actors: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella
Directors: Chris Gorak
Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Run Time: 88 minutes

The Darkest Hour may not have had a blockbuster budget, but it puts what it has to great use. I didn't expect near as much as I got. Compared to most of the SyFy movies this is far more thrilling and re-watchable. Great story, directing, casting, acting, F/X, locations, sound, and music. Be sure to catch this gem.

A group of tourist visiting Moscow have to use their wits to survive when an alien invasion wipes out most of the city. As they try to stay hidden they meet other survivors and try to find a way out of the city. One such survivor they meet gives them hope with a discovery of an alien weakness.

CA Luster
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